George Krawzoff: ‘I know how government should work’
For Steamboat Pilot & Today
You have one choice when you vote for Steamboat Springs City Council — vote for me or business as usual. None of the other races are contested.
Business as usual is unacceptable globally and locally. Along with our high school students, I recognize a future threatened by climate change, unlimited growth on a finite planet and environmental problems. The world is reaching limits of growth.
Steamboat Springs also has limits. With less than 2,000 people in 1950, our big ski area set off a 7% growth boom that doubled population in one decade. Despite slowing since the 2008 recession, average growth since 1970 has been 3.5% per year, doubling our size every 20 years. Boulder was our current size in 1950 but doubled every 20 years to over 100,000 people today. Think of what being Boulder here in the high-country means.
Roads have limits. As more homes and businesses are built on either side of our bottleneck at 13th Street and Lincoln Avenue, little or nothing is being done. Incremental widening of U.S. Highway 40 between 13th and Elk River Road isn’t a fix. The last real look at crosstown traffic occurred in 2003 but, despite 16 years of growing traffic, routinely stacking-up trucks, buses and cars through downtown to Anglers Drive, business as usual continues. Our traffic will become worse than Boulder’s but City Council seems unaware of these limits and is eager to grow faster. Think of our air quality.
Let’s celebrate the affordable housing promised by the recent annexation but realistically assess our future. Climate change is causing the massive population on the east coast, particularly in Florida, to seek higher, cooler and drier ground. The wealthiest can choose to join us here. Traditional boundaries of resort and community housing have blurred. A single family home away from the ski area may offer better access to golf, trout streams, bicycling and so on. The lurch toward vacant and seasonally occupied homes, evident in the last census, will continue with many of the annexation’s free market homes. Steamboat Springs is losing its locals.
As soaring real estate prices take homes out of reach of our local population, 150 deed-restricted homes are a small number compared to our free market development potential. Accessory dwelling units, caretaker units, garage apartments — whatever we may call them — are not discussed in community plans but could add thousands of units beyond the 4,000 units of infill already approved.
Our water conservation plan identifies 14,000 acre-feet of water available if additional storage is developed on the Elk River and if we remain unaffected by global warming, wildfire, drought and calls for water on the Colorado River. All big ifs. That amount of water will sustain 56,000 people, our population in two doubling cycles or 40 years.
Recent development approvals have been rapid fire and shocking. Public benefit was a distant second thought in the rush to grow. I will do better. Elect a council representative that has the community at heart, is not beholden to special interests and who will not ignore the serious problems facing our city.
I’ve lived more than 20 years in Steamboat Springs and have seen changes good and bad. I love skiing, hiking and cycling here. My grandchildren live here, and I hope they have a bright future. As a department head for the city, as transportation commissioner for Northwest Colorado, a former county commissioner and chairperson of a county planning commission, I know how government should work. Please elect me to the City Council to help shape the future of our city.
George Krawzoff is a candidate for the two-year, at-large seat on the Steamboat Springs City Council.
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